Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Brush fire scorches 2.5 acres

by The Indiana Gazette on April 01, 2014 10:55 AM

BLACKLICK TOWNSHIP — A wildfire Monday charred an estimated 2.5 acres of land along Stuchell Road before it was doused by six volunteer fire departments.

Terry Stemler, a district forester at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s forestry office in Ebensburg, said the brush fire had the potential for increasing in acreage and could very easily have spread to nearby homes.

“The fire companies did a fantastic job in knocking it down and preventing that,” Stemler said.

The Aultman fire department responded at 3:39 p.m., and units from Iselin, Coal Run, Black Lick, Blairsville and Indiana were sent to assist just after 4 p.m. The Coral-Graceton and Creekside fire companies were placed on standby.

No one was reported to be injured.

The fire was the first in Indiana County involving Bureau of Forestry response this spring.

What started the fire remains under investigation, Stemler said, and he declined to comment on the possible cause.

He called the incident an example of how easily outdoor fires can spread in early spring, and used the opportunity to remind residents to take be more cautious with fire.

“Spring is when we have the most fires, in April and May,” Stemler said. “With the drying conditions right now — grass is a very fine fuel, it doesn’t take long to dry out, and leaves as well. So just be careful when you’re doing things like yard work.”

Stemler’s district office serves Cambria, Indiana and Blair counties, and has arranged contracts with air tankers and helicopters to help fight an expected rash of wildfires until the area “greens up” with fresh vegetation.

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